June 6, 2021 at Saint William Church in Naples, FL
Exodus 24, 3-8 + Psalm 116 + Hebrews 9, 11-15 + Mark 14, 12-16, 22-26
When I say: “The Mystery of Faith.” You often respond by saying: “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, until you come again.” We should be clear about this, because for followers of Jesus, those words are meaningless unless they reflect the life of the one who says them. On this holy day, we are reminded to pay attention to what we say and mean it. If you believe that something happens to the bread and wine in my hands when Christ speaks those words again, then you ought to believe that something happens to you when you say Amen and when you eat the bread and drink this cup.
The Feast of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ which in the past we called, “Corpus Christi,” is about us as much as it is about Jesus Christ and the Holy Eucharist. In fact, forgetting that runs the risk of turning this into ritual theatrics that are nothing more than elegant performances. This day is about our identity more than any other day of the year. This day defines who we are. In this age, DNA has become a big issue, and people all over are sending in samples to places like Ancestry.com to find out who they are and where they have come from. Precise as all that may be, that information when it comes back really says very little about who we are. Our mother tongue, our cultural context, and for that matter our phone records will tell others more about us than a genetic code. Genes are just the raw material we combine with circumstances and relationships to shape who we are.
On this day, like every other Sunday, we repeat the celebration that forges our identity and strengthens us to be the very body of Christ that we receive. Jesus let his disciples know that joining him in the celebration of the Passover was an event of communion in his self-giving love. Celebrating the body and blood of Christ always calls us to do what he commanded: to share our lives as he did. If what we do here means anything at all, more is changed than bread into flesh and wine into blood. There is also our flesh and our blood that is, in a sense consecrated by our consuming these precious gifts, this holy sacrament. We can’t possibly believe what happens here if we don’t believe what happens to us. If by mid-week someone who has met us, been with us, or has seen us has not met and experienced the living Jesus Christ, something has gone wrong. And so, we have this day to redirect our focus and our purpose for being here.
What gets placed on this altar is more than a plate of hosts and chalice of wine. What gets placed here is what they mean for they represent you and me. We are the ones placed on this altar. We are the ones who come here to be lifted up in thanksgiving to the Father. We are the ones who must sacrifice and serve, we are the ones who must forgive and heal. We are the ones, filled with the Spirit, that God has sent into this world to give glory and praise, and show those who are lost the way home.
It is Saint Augustine who really speaks of the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ as our feast day. Jesus let his disciples know that joining him in the celebration of the Passover was an event of communion in his self-giving love. Celebrating the Body and Blood of Christ always calls us to do what he commanded: to share our lives as he did. When Augustine gave out Communion, he said this: “Receive what you are and be what you receive.” This is the real mystery of faith. When we dare to say: “Amen,” we proclaim, “Yes, we will receive what we are. We will be what we eat.”